News Coverage on Casino Gambling
Cuomo's Casino FundsJacob Gershman
A lobbying group controlled by Genting Bhd. and other gambling interests donated $2 million to a powerful committee that backs New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at around the same time that the governor announced he would push to legalize casinos.
On Dec. 4, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, wrote in a newspaper opinion piece that new casinos would be part of his economic agenda. In January, he announced a partnership with Genting to develop a $4 billion convention center and casino at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.
Throughout December, the Committee to Save New York ran television ads praising Mr. Cuomo.
News of the donation came as Mr. Cuomo announced Monday that casino developers would compete to build a gambling hall in or around New York City, now that the Genting deal for the Aqueduct project had collapsed.
A Cuomo administration official said there was no connection between the donation to the Committee to Save New York and the governor's support for casino gambling. The official said Mr. Cuomo hasn't adopted the gambling association's position that new casinos should be located at existing race tracks.
Mr. Cuomo had long said he was open to casino gambling in New York but didn't announce his full support until December.
The committee's spokesman Michael McKeon said: "We are proud of our track record and if there are people who felt they were getting something more for contributing to CSNY, then they are simply wrong." A Genting spokesman wasn't available for comment.
Mr. Featherstonhaugh said he didn't discuss donations with the governor. He said he dealt with Michelle Adams, a managing director at Tishman Speyer and treasurer for Save New York.
"I don't think they thought much about the gaming issue until I reached out to them," said Mr. Featherstonhaugh.
Mr. Featherstonhaugh estimated that Genting—a member of the gambling association—financed about a fifth of the $2 million contribution. The rest came from owners in the limited video lottery ventures at the state's horse-race tracks known as "racinos."